“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit on January 30, 2015 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pope Francis to receive Sunni Muslim leader at Vatican

Yahoo – AFP, Angus MacKinnon, 19 May 2016

Pope Francis (left) is to receive the spiritual leader of the world's Sunni Muslims,
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (right), at the Vatican (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard,
Filippo Monteforte)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis is to meet the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar at the Vatican on Monday in an unprecedented encounter between the leader of the world's Catholics and the highest authority in Sunni Islam.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, who heads the mosque and seat of learning considered the most prestigious institution in the main branch of Islam, will have an audience with the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.

"This audience is being prepared and has been scheduled for Monday," he said. "It will be a first".

The hugely symbolic visit comes against the backdrop of a recent improvement in relations between the two faiths after serious tensions during the time of Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Ties were badly soured when the now-retired Benedict made a September 2006 speech in which he was perceived to have linked Islam to violence, sparking deadly protests in several countries and reprisal attacks on Christians.

Dialogue resumed in 2009 but was suspended again by Al-Azhar in 2011 when Benedict called for the protection of Christian minorities after a bomb attack on a church in Alexandria, an intervention that was perceived as meddling in Egypt's internal affairs.

Relations have steadily improved since Francis became pope in 2013 with inter-faith dialogue near the top of his agenda, something he underlined with a personal message to the Muslim world to mark the end of the first month of Ramadan of his pontificate.

A representative of the Al-Azhar mosque, Mahmoud Azab, took part in an inter-faith conference at the Vatican in March 2014 aimed at fostering cooperation on combating modern slavery and people trafficking.

"The dialogue was never cut, it was just suspended," Azab said at the time, adding that the idea was not "dialogue for its own sake. There has to be a clear agenda."

On a trip to Jordan and Israel in May 2014, Francis was accompanied by two old friends from his days in Buenos Aires, the Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud.

Pope hosts Muslim families

He has also pursued a historic rapprochement with the Orthodox Church, meeting the Russian patriarch in Cuba last year, and overseen the finessing of Catholic thinking on the need for Jews to convert, easing long-standing tensions with Judaism.

The 79-year-old pope made headlines in April when he returned from a trip to the migrant crisis island of Lesbos with three Syrian Muslim families who are now being put up by the Vatican as they apply for asylum in Italy.

Church officials say the choice of families was random but the gesture was nevertheless highlighted by media throughout the Islamic world and Francis came under fire from some on his own turf for not picking some of the Christians asylum-seekers in limbo on Lesbos.

The pope has however shown himself willing to speak out about aspects of Islam he has issues with, most notably in December 2014 when he said it would wonderful if some Muslim leaders "spoke up clearly and condemned" extremist violence carried out in the name of their religion.

Those remarks were seen at the time as reflecting mounting concern over the plight of Christians in the Middle East against the backdrop of the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The Vatican sees IS as determined to drive Christian and other non-Muslim minorities out of Iraq and Syria, and that has helped to accelerate the push for dialogue with Muslim leaders willing to try and stop that happening, experts say.

There is also a view in the Holy See that there is a struggle for the soul of Islam going on and that Vatican diplomacy should focus energetically on ensuring the right side comes out on top.

Related Articles:



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Samoura chosen as first female FIFA secretary general

Yahoo – AFP, May 13, 2016

Fatma Samoura will be the first female secretary general in the history of
FIFA (AFP Photo/Andreea Campeanu)

Mexico City (AFP) - FIFA on Friday named Senegalese UN diplomat Fatma Samoura as the first female secretary general in the history of the male-dominated world football organization.

Samoura, 54, comes from outside the football world, having worked with the United Nations for 21 years. She is currently based in Nigeria for the UN Development Program.

"Today is a wonderful day for me, and I am honored to take on the role of FIFA's Secretary General," Samoura, who has also worked at the World Food Program, said in a statement.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has
 promised reforms to world football's
governing body during a trip to Thailand.
"I also look forward to bringing my experience in governance and compliance to bear on the important reform work that is already underway at FIFA."

She will take her post by mid-June after undergoing an eligibility check administered by an independent review committee.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who announced her appointment by the FIFA Council during a congress in Mexco City, said Samoura was a "great person" with experience managing big organizations, budgets and staff.

"We have to be serious when we say we embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality," Infantino said.

"She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA, somebody from outside, not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past but somebody new."

Her appointment was a huge surprise at a congress that was meant to focus on confirming reforms aimed at cleaning up an organization ensnared in a massive corruption scandal.

The former secretary general, Jerome Valcke of France, was sacked in January and banned from football for 12 years over misconduct in television deals and World Cup ticket sales -- one of the many scandals that hit FIFA.

Germany's Markus Kattner had been serving as interim secretary general since then.

Related Articles:


“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sierra Leone's first Ebola-hit community reconsiders its traditions

Yahoo –AFP, Jennifer O'Mahony, May 12, 2016

Bendu Alliou sits with her infant daughter outside a hospital in Kailahun, eastern
Sierra Leone (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

Kailahun (Sierra Leone) (AFP) - Violently coughing up blood, the woman was close to collapse when brought to Kailahun hospital in eastern Sierra Leone from her village close to the Guinean border.

For nursing staff, the spectre of the killer Ebola virus had returned.

"My staff went into PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)," said Samuel Massaquoi, medical superintendent of the hospital. "People said that if she came from near Guinea she had Ebola."

Hard hit by the Ebola virus the capacity
of the small hospital in Kailahun, Sierra
Leone, has been stretched over the 
course of the epidemic (AFP Photo/
Marco Longari)
Urging calm, the doctor immediately implemented the screening measures used at the outbreak's height, when Ebola cases arrived on a daily basis.

That was one month ago -- the patient was instead diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis -- but it is a clear example of how the the fear of Ebola still grips the heart of this community.

The district was the first in the country to record cases back in May 2014 after the initial outbreak in southern Guinea.

The virus killed around 230 people in Kailahun but its impact did not end when the area was declared Ebola-free a year ago: residents say entrenched attitudes to health and tradition have changed significantly.

"The outbreak started here. Every patient at that time was considered a suspected case," Massaquoi said, standing metres from the now empty triage building, where health workers in hazmat suits once worked in scenes resembling a horror film.

His hospital received a real boost, he said, with extra funding for equipment from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and targeted training for staff from Britain's Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

"It was not like this two years back. It has improved significantly," the general practitioner said. That was reflected by an uptick in the number of patients admitted post-Ebola, many of whom previously viewed the hospital as a place of death, not healing.

Traditions upended

Kailahun's first spate of cases is believed to have originated from the funeral of a traditional healer in a village close to where the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone borders meet.

Ebola sufferers were crossing to see her from Guinea before she too succumbed to the virus. Many west Africans believed Ebola was a curse, and turned to their local witchdoctor rather than attempt the long distances and meet the elevated costs of government health facilities.

"Ebola came, but it came with lessons. Most of them who treated Ebola patients died," Massaquoi said.

"It was only when the powerful healers started dying that people started believing this is real. We lost quite a good amount of them," he said, with many no longer as convinced of their invincibility.

Health workers in Sierra Leone are battling a teenage pregnancy epidemic that 
peaked when the Ebola crisis was at its height late in 2014 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)

The Red Cross sought to engage the healers in the fight against the virus, persuading some to advise visitors that they could not cure Ebola, and pointing them to dedicated treatment centres.

Prevention in the form of better hygiene is highly visible in the proliferation of hand-washing stations at the string of villages that dot this rural district.

Another influential group has altered its activities post-Ebola in Kailahun: the female secret societies that dominate rural life in this part of west Africa, whose primary role is to initiate girls into womanhood.

Traditionally they would carry out female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice performed on 90 percent of girls in Sierra Leone, according to UNICEF.

But in 19-year-old Baindu Alie's village, they have stopped.

"(Families) are afraid, so there is less trust in the societies," she said.

The girls' loss of blood during the excision, usually performed with a razor, was now known to be a possible transmission point for Ebola, medical professionals in the community confirmed to AFP.

Survivor communities

Naima Morie, 20, lives down the road from the district hospital and is an Ebola survivor. Three of her family members were not so lucky, including a sister who died in her arms.

Morie had symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhoea when she arrived at the Ebola treatment unit (ETU), and was driven there semi-conscious.

When she came round, "my whole system was very hot, boiling hot inside," she told AFP.

Morie made a full recovery, and in February gave birth to a baby boy named Joseph.

Health workers carry the body of a suspected Ebola victim for burial at a cemetery
in Freetown December 21, 2014. Reuters/Baz Ratner/File Photo

"When I was out of the ETU and went back home they were all rejoicing," she said, describing the reaction back in her village. "Now babies that are sick, they visit the hospital after seeing me survive."

Not everyone is so accepting. The stigma of Ebola remains a problem, and survivors have held protests in recent months against the government, claiming free follow-up treatment and scholarships for their children have not been delivered as promised.

According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) there are more than 4,000 Ebola survivors living in Sierra Leone, and the virus killed many of country's already limited number of health workers.

Ebola is one in a long list of epidemics that have ravaged this community, each leaving its own generation of survivors and broken families.

Huge roadside signs in the district now proclaim: "It's not the end for Ebola survivors; it's the end for stigma", alongside more faded billboards that read "An HIV test saved my life".


Health workers assist a patient suspected of having Ebola on their way to a
 treatment centre run by the French Red Cross in Patrice, Guinea, on
November 21, 2014 (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Related Articles:



“ .. The Role of Gaia in Human Consciousness

One of those times might be frightening for you to know about, since it was a full cooperation with Gaia for your termination, and a pandemic almost wiped humanity off the map. A pandemic! Now, you say, "What has that got to do with Human consciousness, Kryon?" Pay attention, dear ones, because this is the day where the teaching was given by my partner, and he put together the Nine Human Attributes. One of the attribute sets included three Gaia attributes and one of them was the consciousness of the planet. Gaia is related to Human consciousness!

Are you starting to connect the dots? You are connected to this planet in a profound and spiritual way. As goes humanity goes the planet's consciousness. Gaia, Mother Nature, whatever you want to call it, cooperates with Human consciousness. If you spend 1,000 years killing each other, then Gaia will do its best to cooperate with your desires! Gaia will look at Human consciousness and try to help with what you have shown you like to do! Did you know this role of Gaia with you? It's a partner with you, fast tracking what you give to it. You may wish to review what the indigenous of the planet still understand. Gaia is a partner!

Pandemic: Don't you find it odd that in the last 50 years, when you have a population of seven billion Human Beings, with up to 2,000 airplanes in the air at any given moment, going between almost every conceivable place, that there has not been a pandemic in your lifetime? There have been five starts of potential pandemics over the last 20 years, yet none became serious. Did any of you put this together? Dear ones, when the world was far less populated a few hundred years ago, with no mass travel to spread a virus, there were still millions wiped out by a pandemic. With the increased population and mass travel, there is far more danger today than before. It doesn't make sense, does it? What happened to stop it?

When you know humanity's relationship to Gaia, it makes sense. Gaia is a life-force that is your partner, watching you change the balance of light and dark and reflecting what Humans want. It has polarity, too! Perhaps it's time to start your meditations with thanking your planet Earth for supporting you in the spirituality of your Akash, for always being with you, a life-force that is always present. The ancients started their ceremonies in that way. Have you forgotten?

Ebola

Now, I've just set the stage for the next subject, haven't I? Ebola. Are you afraid yet? Gaia is a life-force that is a part of Human consciousness. My partner put it on the screen today so you could see the connections [during the lecture series]. Now it's time to connect the dots. Dear one, Gaia is in the battle, too, for here comes something scary that you haven't had in your lifetime and you're afraid of it - the potential of a pandemic on the planet.

There's a very famous film that has some dialogue that my partner will quote. Some of you will know it and some of you won't, but here it is: "Have a little fire, scarecrow?" What are you afraid of? Darkness? Gaia is in the battle with you and is actively pursuing solutions through light. The energy of the planet is with you in this fight! The ebola virus is a shock and a surprise. It is propelled by ignorance and fear, so it can flourish. Look at where it started and look at how it gets its ability to continue. It expands its fear and power easily with those who believe it's a curse instead of those who understand the science.

Villages are filled with those who refuse to leave their family members because they believe the disease is a curse! FEAR! Instead of understanding that they should be in isolation from the virus, the family dies together through ignorance and fear. This represents how darkness works. Are you going to become afraid also? Dear ones, ebola will be conquered. Know this and be at peace. Pray for light for those in the villages who are afraid, that they can know more about how to keep the spread of this disease and live to see their families
. .”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

First women's run sweeps through Algiers

Yahoo – AFP, May 6, 2016

Women take the start of the “100% women and supportive” race, named the
Algerian women’s race (L'Algeroise) on May 6, 2016 in the capital Algiers
(AFP Photo/Farouk Batiche)

Algiers (AFP) - Hundreds of women took part Friday in an unprecedented run through the streets of the Algerian capital to raise awareness about sports in the conservative Muslim country.

Wearing sweatpants, T-shirts and, in some cases, Muslim headscarves, the women took off from Didouche Mourad street in downtown Algiers for a three-kilometre (1.8 mile) run to the main post office.

Algerian middle distance runner Nouria Benida-Merah, who won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, took part in the race which was open to 13-year-olds and over.

The city's mayor and the minister of sports were on hand to watch the event, which organisers said was aimed at raising awareness of the role of women in society as well as women's participation in sports.

"I hope that the culture of women's running will take root in our society," Benida-Merah said.

Fridays in Algeria are usually dedicated to the weekly prayer and streets in the capital are typically busy with male worshippers heading to mosques.

Nabila Nedjar said she travelled 400 kilometres from her hometown in Constantine in eastern Algeria to take part in the race.

"It's a pleasure to see a run for women only and open to everyone," she said.

A 30-year-old mother who identified herself as Suheila said the race gives a positive image of Algerian women, portraying them as "dynamic and brave".


After the second round of elections in Iran a record 17 women will become
 lawmakers in the 290-seat parliament -- one more than the number of clerics,
which has hit an all time low (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

Related Articles:




“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Saturday, April 30, 2016

33 rescued lions flown from Peru to S. Africa

Yahoo – AFP, Moises Avila, April 30, 2016

The lions, with names such as Zeus and Shakira, were freed after the use of
wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru in 2011 and Colombia in 2013
(AFP Photo/Cris Bouroncle)

Lima (AFP) - More than 30 lions rescued from abuse in Peruvian and Colombian circuses were flown Friday to South Africa, in what campaigners called the largest-ever airlift of big cats.

The 33 lions, with names such as Zeus and Shakira, were freed after the use of wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru in 2011 and Colombia in 2013.

The Colombian circuses gave up the
 lions voluntarily but police had to launch
 raids to free the lions in Peru (AFP
Photo/Cris Bouroncle)
Saved from the lion tamer's whip, they have been rounded up with the help of authorities by Animal Defenders International (ADI), an animal rights charity.

"It's truly wonderful that these lions, after a lifetime of suffering and abuse in circuses, are going home to Africa," said the president of ADI, Jan Creamer.

"All of the lions when they arrive from the circuses have health problems, parasites, disease," she added.

"All of their lives they haven't had enough food, so they have long-term malnutrition problems."

Recent months have been spent in straw-lined cages in a refuge north of Lima, however, they have been well fed and are in generally good health, Creamer said.

Twenty-four lions rescued in Peru were driven from their temporary rescue center to Lima airport to be picked up by a cargo plane that brought another nine over from Colombia.

Late Friday, the airlift took off, transporting the big cats to their new life.

"We are on our way!" read a post on the ADI website.

"The 33 lions are on board the ADI Spirit Of Freedom Flight, on route to their wonderful new lives at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, South Africa."

Graphic, including map, illustrating how lions from circuses in Peru and
 Colombia are to be released into a game park in South Africa (AFP Photo/
Tamara Hoha)

The contingent of big cats includes Shakira, named after the Colombian pop singer. Her minders say she likes to play with a tire and eat watermelons.

From one of 10 Peruvian circuses comes "Ricardo, the one-eyed lion" and from another "Joseph, the almost-blind lion."

'Heading home to paradise'

Together, the 33 were to take a 15-hour flight to South Africa in travel cages inside the plane chartered by ADI.

They will arrive on Saturday in Johannesburg and be taken on to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in the north of the country.

"The lions will be in their natural habitat for the first time in their lives," Creamer said. "They should fit right into that habitat. It's the best environment for them."

ADI says it is the biggest transfer of such large captive animals ever.

Workers carry a cage containing a former circus lion at the El Dorado Airport
 in Bogota, Colombia, April 29, 2016. Nine former circus lions will be taken to the
 Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa where ADI (Animal Defenders 
International) officials said they will enjoy natural enclosures with drinking
pools, platforms and toys. Reuters/John Vizcaino

In the circuses the lions were poorly fed and trucked around in cages, the group said. The Colombian circuses gave up the nine lions voluntarily but police had to launch raids to free the lions in Peru.

The rescuers say that one of the Peru contingent, Smith, attacked a teacher from a school party when she was invited into his cage by a lion tamer.

"Almost all of the rescued lions have been mutilated to remove their claws, one has lost an eye, another is almost blind, and many have smashed and broken teeth so would not survive in the wild," ADI said in a statement.

At their new home, "the lions will enjoy large natural enclosures situated in pristine African bush, complete with drinking pools, platforms and toys," it added.

"The lion habitats will be steadily expanded over the coming months as the lions become familiar with their new life and are introduced to each other."

The cost of the transfer is $10,000 per cat, ADI said.

"These lions have endured hell on earth," Creamer said.

"Now they are heading home to paradise."


Related Article:

Abused circus lions flown to new home in South African bush


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Palestinians unveil gift of giant Mandela statue

Yahoo – AFP, April 26, 2016

Palestinian and South African officials pose in front of a giant statue of Nelson
Mandela during its inauguration ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah
on April 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinians on Tuesday inaugurated a giant statue of Nelson Mandela donated by the South African city of Johannesburg to their political capital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The six-metre (20-foot) two-tonne bronze statue was a gift from Johannesburg with which Ramallah is twinned.

Late South African president Nelson Mandela 
opens debate on the Truth And Reconciliation 
Commission (TRC) report in Parliament in Cape 
Town in February, 1999 (AFP Photo/Anna Zieminski)
"I think that Nelson Mandela himself would have been extremely proud of what has been done today," Parks Tau, the mayor of the South African city, told AFP.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas also attended the ceremony at the renamed Nelson Mandela Square in the Al-Tireh district.

Mandela, who died in 2013, was South Africa's first president after the era of apartheid, a regime of segregation that the Palestinians accuse Israel of also imposing.

He was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and a champion for Middle East peace.

Ramallah several days ago installed huge posters celebrating the South African leader bearing his comment: "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians".

Ramallah mayor Mussa Hadid said the statue "symbolises the shared suffering" of the South African and Palestinian peoples.

During its journey to the pedestal in the West Bank, the statue was retained by Israeli customs for 30 days, as the Palestinian Authority does not control its own borders.

"Nelson Mandela, who had already spent 28 years in the jails of the apartheid regime in South Africa, was again detained for 30 days by the Israeli authorities," Hadid said.

Tau said Israeli customs had sought duty "equivalent to 10 times the price of the statue", but that this was not paid.

Hadid said the statue sent "a clear message to the Israeli coloniser and occupier -- that we are closer to freedom than you think".


Saturday, April 16, 2016

US transfers nine Yemeni inmates from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia

Yahoo – AFP, April 16, 2016

Part of the US Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is seen from La Gobernadora viewpoint
 in Guantanamo province, Cuba on March 13, 2016 (AFP Photo/Nicolas Garcia)

Washington (AFP) - The Pentagon on Saturday announced the transfer of nine Yemeni inmates from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia, bringing the remaining population at the controversial military prison down to 80.

The United States has in recent months accelerated the rate at which detainees who have been approved for transfer are released from the facility, which President Barack Obama wants to close before his term ends at the end of the year.

US President Barack Obama delivers a 
statement on the Guantanamo Bay 
detention camp on February 23, 2016 in
 the Roosevelt Room of the White House in
Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
Saturday's release marks the largest transfer since 10 Yemenis were sent to Oman in January. It is the first time Saudi Arabia has taken any former Guantanamo inmates.

"The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The men arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier on Saturday. Most had been cleared for release years ago, but faced delays owing in part to their home country descending into civil war, meaning they could not be repatriated.

The nine inmates are: Ahmed Umar Abdullah Al-Hikimi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh Nasir, Ali Yahya Mahdi Al-Raimi, Tariq Ali Abdullah Ahmed Ba Odah, Muhammed Abdullah Muhammed Al-Hamiri, Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman, Abd al Rahman Al-Qyati, Mansour Muhammed Ali Al-Qatta, and Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed Al-Sabri.

Of the 80 remaining inmates, 26 have been approved for transfer. Obama wants to send the rest, deemed to be the most dangerous, for incarceration in the United States but Republican lawmakers have steadfastly resisted any such move.

Guantanamo is a US naval base carved out of a remote chunk of land on the tip of southeastern Cuba. The administration of George W. Bush opened a prison there to hold terror suspects soon after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

In all, it has housed about 780 inmates over the years.

Republican presidential candidates have vowed that, if elected, they would send more terror suspects to Guantanamo instead of closing it.

Related Articles:



Pope Francis waves to the crowd during his general audience
at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the Vatican
.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Egypt, Saudi Arabia agree $16 bn investment fund, settle maritime spat

Yahoo – AFP, Samer Al-Atrush, April 10, 2016

A picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on April 7, 2016 shows Egyptian
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz
in the capital Cairo (AFP Photo)

Cairo (AFP) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman agreed to set up a $16-billion investment fund Saturday and settled a long-standing maritime dispute as the monarch continued his rare visit to the country.

A day after Salman announced a plan to build a bridge over the Red Sea to Egypt, the heads of state met at the historic Abdeen Palace in Cairo to oversee the inking of a string of agreements Egypt hopes will help boost its battered economy.

In one of the most high-profile announcements, Cairo said it had agreed to demarcate its maritime borders with Saudi Arabia, officially placing two islands in the Straits of Tiran in Saudi territory.

The 80-year-old Saudi monarch's visit to Egypt has been seen as a clear show of support for Sisi, the former military chief who toppled his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Since touching down on Thursday, Salman and his delegation have announced a slew of investments in Egypt.

A live Egyptian state television broadcast on Saturday showed an official announcing the latest agreements, signed by a representative of each country.

The two nations agreed "to set up a Saudi-Egyptian investment fund with a capital of 60 billion Saudi riyals ($16 billion)," the announcer said, giving no further details.

More than a dozen other accords, including a memorandum of understanding to set up an industrial zone in Egypt, were also announced.

Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of Sisi since the overthrow of Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement was viewed by Riyadh with suspicion.

It has since pumped billions of dollars in aid and investment into Egypt.

Egyptian officials and media have heaped accolades on Salman, with state television welcoming him to what it called his "second country" -- a country Riyadh views as a cornerstone in its ambitions to be a regional leader against Iran.

In this picture taken Friday, April 8, 2016, provided by the office of the Egyptian 
Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, sits with Saudi Arabia's 
King Salman in Cairo, surrounded by delegations from the two countries. Egypt 
welcomed Saudi Arabia's monarch on a landmark visit to the Arab world's most populous
 country on Thursday, with Cairo seeking to boost ties and garner deals to prop up the 
nation's shaky economy despite some persistent divisions with the Sunni powerhouse. 
(Mohamed Samaha, Egyptian Presidency via AP)

Maritime borders

But the agreement announced by the cabinet on Saturday to settle the dispute over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir provoked an immediate backlash in Egypt, where thousands tweeted a hashtag accusing Sisi of selling the islands.

Tiran had historically been a Saudi island 'leased' to Egypt in 1950.

Earlier on Saturday, Salman paid a visit to the prestigious Al-Azhar mosque.

He is due to address parliament on Sunday and receive an honorary doctorate from Cairo University on Monday.

An Egyptian government official had said the deals agreed with Saudi Arabia, excluding the investment fund, would amount to $1.7 billion.

On Friday, both leaders lavished praise on each other's countries and their relationship.

"This visit comes as a confirmation of the pledges of brotherhood and solidarity before the two brotherly countries," Sisi said in a televised speech.

The visit follows months of reports in Saudi and Egyptian newspapers of strained ties over Cairo's unwillingness to participate fully in Saudi-led military operations against Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen.

Egypt had announced it would back Saudi Arabia with ground troops if needed, but appears to have balked at the prospect of becoming mired in the conflict.

Sisi's close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who militarily backs Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad against Saudi-supported rebels, has reportedly also caused friction with Riyadh.

However, Saudi Arabia has played a key role in propping up Egypt's economy, whose vital tourism industry has been devastated by years of political turmoil and jihadist attacks.

For Saudi Arabia, which is in competition with regional rival Iran, keeping Egypt under its aegis is crucial.